If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Norway in recent years, you may have been amazed not only by the country’s breathtaking landscapes, but also by the number of Teslas zipping around the streets of Oslo.
Having surpassed an electric vehicle share of 50 percent in 2020, the wealthy Scandinavian country continued its transition to e-mobility last year. According to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), electric cars accounted for 65 percent of new passenger car registrations in 2021, and a barely believable 86 percent when including plug-in hybrids. To put things in perspective, a look across the pond yields an entirely different picture: in the United States, electric vehicles including hybrids accounted for just above 2 percent of light vehicle sales in 2020.
So why is Norway so far ahead in terms of electric vehicle adoption? It’s a combination of policy measures and the country’s wealth (ironically obtained from its vast oil reserves). Norway imposes hefty vehicle import duties and car registration taxes, making cars significantly more expensive than in most other countries. By waiving these duties for electric vehicles, Norway is effectively subsidizing EV purchases at a level that other countries couldn’t afford. Add free parking to the mix and going electric suddenly looks like a tempting proposition.
What makes Norway’s electric vehicle boom even more notable, is the fact that the country’s electricity comes almost exclusively from hydropower. That way driving an electric car in Norway is even cleaner than it is in countries heavily reliant on coal.